The marketing mix, earlier known as the 4 p’s, (but now has a few more), is a vital part of any marketing strategy. This is a tool whereby the marketer takes decisions on what and how a product should be, where it can be sold, how it should be priced, how it will be promoted, how to equip the people who are responsible for selling the product… and so on. Getting the marketing mix right is equally important for the large corporation and the small business owner. Let us take a closer look at the 5 most important elements.
Product: Well, surely that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? A lot of thought and effort goes into designing a product offering. The most important question that you, as a marketer, need to ask is whether there is a need for your type of product and how your own product satisfies that need better than those of your competitors. This will force you to think of why your product is unique, and thereby help you evolve your product’s Unique Selling Proposition. At the same time, you will need to analyze your company’s strengths and weaknesses and the opportunities and threats posed by the market, to understand how you are positioned versus the competition.
Price: This element of the marketing mix can be many a strategy’s undoing. A complete understanding of the financials that drive a business is essential before deciding a pricing strategy. Base your decision after considering the following – what is the perceived value of your product in the eyes of the customer? How price elastic is the market? Do you wish to load overheads on to the new product, if an existing product line is capable of absorbing them? What is your objective – do you plan to gain market share on the strength of a rock bottom price or do you wish to create a premium image targeted at niche customers and price your product accordingly?
Place: This is probably that element of the marketing mix that has undergone a complete change in definition. Traditional trading and distribution models have given way to remote or virtual channels. While reaching the customer may have become simpler, your job as a decision maker has become that much more complex. You now have a plethora of options to choose from – do you go for brick and mortar or direct mailing, use the phone or sell door to door? This decision should, first and foremost, be driven by customer preference and then by other considerations like logistics and economics. Indeed most businesses rely on a multi distribution channel strategy.
Promotion: In a commoditized industry, this is what makes the essential difference. Possibly no other marketing mix element draws as much attention from strategy makers. Again, let consumer needs drive your efforts. Does your marketing communication address a specific need of the target audience? Is the message memorable? Does it spur action? Here again, the entire landscape has changed from what it was a few years ago. Promotion has gone way beyond mere advertising and public relations – it is now a highly evolved process, ranging from live events to internet marketing. In these times of information overload, promotion strategies must pack sufficient punch to cut through the clutter.
People: Although a later entrant to the marketing mix family, the people decision is no less important. Indeed, in service oriented businesses, it may well be the key determinant of success. No strategy is complete unless the people who are in charge of implementing it have the wherewithal to do so. This means investing in sales force training, ensuring a customer relationship management system is in place and building a customer centric culture throughout the organization.
Remember also that the marketing mix is a dynamic entity and needs to be reviewed and refined periodically. It always helps to stay in touch with the latest developments and current expert opinion. or should have what you’re looking for in terms of books and other resources.
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